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On Ukraine’s front lines, U.S.-supplied equipment is falling apart

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Equipment and armament, supplied by the U.S. to Ukraine, which was meant to help protect freedom on battlefields, is now breaking apart, reports Thomas Gibbons-Neff in his article for The Washington Post.

Non-lethal weapons and other military equipment in estimated amount of $260 million was delivered from America to war-torn Ukraine in order to help Ukrainian government in its confrontation with Russia but as it has been disclosed, the equipment resembles more of waste and is rather ill-suited for contemporaneous war conditions. This was found out during a tour at battlefront in eastern Ukraine accompanied by Ukrainian army troops and mechanics.

Humvees (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) provided by the U.S., as it was found out, were produced in late 1980’s-early 1990’s and serve as a brilliant example of the situation. Three of them offer hardly any protection for soldiers since there are simply plastic windows and doors, the tires are at risk of blowing apart because the vehicles were not used for too long. About 120 militants risked their lives in vain because the bulletproof vests, delivered by America, expired in 2000-s, when American troops stopped to use them.

Gibbons-Neff cites an anonymous commander of Ukrainian army who criticized the equipment which initially was meant to protect soldiers but instead is likely to hurt them even more: “If the Americans are going to send us equipment, don’t send us secondhand stuff.”

This was to be expected that discovery of such poor state of equipment would disappoint Ukrainian combatants and it happened: confidence and assurance among soldiers have significantly decreased, taking into account that recent weeks were marked with advanced number of casualties. As revealed by the experts, the issue also casts doubts on America’s true involvement into the 2-year-long conflict because with such a support it is almost impossible to compete with much better equipped Russian separatists.

The aforementioned Humvees in amount of 100 have been transferred by a special executive bill earlier this year. Pentagon assured that the help to Ukraine will be constant, but forgot to comment on the state of previously supplied obsolete equipment. U.S. officials claim, that since Pentagon was not ready to react immediately at the very beginning of the war, there is nothing to be blamed of. They assume that there is nothing criminal that the provided help was not only out of time, but also imperfect.

Insofar it is hard to estimate how many pieces of equipment in Ukrainian possession are worn out and old, but the authorities of the U.S. announced that there have also been deliveries of new weapons and ammunition such as communications gear, counter artillery and mortar radars. Another batch of 100 Humvees has been approved as a part of a program of sending weaponry that is of no use to America to foreign countries. Particularly outdated Humvees might be supplied for spare parts and obviously this can be applied to other pieces of equipment.

Speaking of Humvees, one of those three vehicles that fell apart in the Ukraine was easily replaced with a used SUV slightly more expensive that replacement of one Humvee’s tires. Regardless the fact that operations chief of the Ukrainian armed forces assured that Humvees sent by America were not supposed to be taken apart for spares.

This failure is just one of the many measures designed by Defense and State departments’ programs which are intended to help Ukraine. In addition to ammunition supply, Pentagon has also established training programs for military forces of Ukraine. The measures also have received bipartisan support in Congress. Moreover, the Defense spending Act for 2016 included more than $300 million to support military operations in other countries, that is, war funding. The nowadays aid delivered to Ukraine was initiated by President Obama who was eager to ensure that Ukrainians are able to defend themselves.

Gibbons-Neff cites former deputy asst. secretary of defense for Eurasia: “diplomatic solution to the crisis can be reached through stronger engagement — namely in the form of sending weapons to Ukraine.” Ukrainian citizens need to have the right to exercise their freedoms, she added. However, no lethal armament would be sent since this might only escalate conflict.

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